County Breaks Ground For New Civic Treasure – A Waterfront Park

Park to Add Sparkle to our Jewel on the Bay, the County Administration Center

A dream more than 100 years in the making is coming true in downtown San Diego. On Sept. 25, 2012, I joined my colleagues in breaking ground on a spectacular new waterfront park that will enhance what some call our “Jewel on the Bay,” the historic County Administration Center.

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Supervisors officially break ground on new waterfront park.

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Speaking to the crowd at the groundbreaking.

Back in 1908, city planner John Nolen envisioned a bayfront civic center surrounded by parkland that would link to Balboa Park with a grand promenade. The link never materialized, but the 16-acre civic center site at the foot of Cedar Street came to pass with our County Administration Center. Now we are taking the first steps to encircle this historic treasure with a beautiful park that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

The waterfront park will complement the newly-launched North Embarcadero Visionary Plan construction designed to showcase San Diego Bay by improving public spaces along Harbor Drive.

Our new park will feature a long, linear fountain with water jets that shoot up about 14 feet into the air and down into shallow splash areas where children will be welcome to play. We will even have changing rooms.

The park will have room for picnics, weddings and large civic events, as well as quiet areas with theme gardens, including a play area for children.

The first portion of the project involves tearing up a surface parking lot on the south end of the property and constructing beneath it a 254 space underground public parking garage. The park will be built above.

When that half is completed, construction will shift to the north side of the property facing Grape Street.

The project will take about 20 months to complete, opening in mid-2014. I am very proud of this Board of Supervisors and the county management, led by Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard, for helping create this civic treasure on the bay.

President Teddy Roosevelt once warned us: “I hope that you of San Diego keep your waterfront and develop it so that it may add to the beauty of your city. Do not let a number of private individuals make it hideous with buildings, and then force your children to pay an exorbitant sum to get rid of the ugliness they have created.”

With this groundbreaking now behind us and construction in progress, we have heeded T.R.’s admonition. And that reminds me of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I look forward to seeing a big crowd for the ribbon cutting. Everyone is invited.

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